Naming A Startup: Advice from Startup Mentors

Naming A Startup: Advice from Startup Mentors

What does it take to name a startup? In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, experts weigh in on what it takes to create a memorable startup brand name. We provide some insight from top startup mentors and offer some of our own opinions on the art of startup naming.

Brand Name isn’t the Only Thing, But It Provides an Amazing Benefit

“The name of the company can’t make or break it. But the name of a company can definitely help it enormously. If you can think of the brands that are really successful, the Googles, the Virgins, the Apples, they’ve got distinct brand names. And obviously, as the years go by, it’s more and more difficult to find a distinct brand name that hasn’t already been used and protected. So, it’s all that more challenging, but there are still names out there to be had.

[In the case of Virgin] I was 15, and…sitting in a basement with a bunch of 15-year-old girls. And we were tossing out names for a record company. One of the girls shouted ‘Well, we’re all virgins!’ and laughed. I thought ‘Yeah, virgins sounds [like] a good name. We’re definitely virgin in business, so let’s call it Virgin.’ It was slightly risqué in those days and, in fact, the registry office wouldn’t register it for four years because they said it was ‘rude.’ ”

Richard Branson (Virgin Group)

Keep it Meaningful, But Keep it Fun

“I like names that are memorable and meaningful. I think it’s very hard to come up with a name that’s sort of random, you know Purple Monkey, and have it mean something. When we built Priceline we were talking about the control that both sellers had and buyers had around price. And so Priceline was a great descriptive name and a very memorable name.”

Timothy “Scott” Case (Priceline.com Inc.):

 Create a quality Product/Service First, then you can worry about the name.

“A name is a name is a name. You can call yourself Jello and it’s what you make it. So a name is a commitment. It’s what you bring to the customer. You could call yourself almost anything. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s clear what you offer and that name stands for a commitment of quality and the right kind of experience.”

Beth Comstock, (General Electric Co.)

If It Works, You’ll Know. It’ll fit like Music and Lyrics.

“A name is like music, it’s like melody. You know it when you hear it.…If you can remember it, that’s good. If the ideas and images that the name provoked in your thoughts are consistent, that’s good. When you heard the name Google, you didn’t forget that even when you didn’t know what that was…there’s something about a good name. When you hear it, you know it fits.”

MC Hammer, entertainment entrepreneur and startup investor

As part of the Startup of the Year Competition, the Wall Street Journal is sponsoring, coaching, and mentoring different startups on successfully running their business.  From Richard Branson to MC Hammer, entrepreneurs will be coached on startup naming, pitching, and running their company in this mega brand culture.  At the end of the 50 week mentorship, a Documentary will be released on how these startups fared.

Do read our corresponding blog, Startup Brand Naming: Why all those Quirky Names, along with some other startup branding content:

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